French Diplomats to the Barricades!

Certainly you've heard of this: France is governed by strikes.

When the subway workers are unhappy, they strike. They're employed by the government, so when the French public screams about no subway, the government caves and gives the subway workers a raise.

This last summer, during the heat wave, the actors went on strike. No theater. If I'm not mistaken, I think the poets also went on strike.

The public say, "Mais non... where's my play? Where's my poetry?" Bang. The government gives the actors and poets a raise.

So today... another strike from France. This time, it's the diplomats.

Believe it or not, the diplomatic corps is on strike... protesting the new budget for the foreign ministry, which means a cut in  housing allowance, plus embassy and consulate operations around the world.

France has a diplomatic staff of more than 9,000, with 5,000 serving overseas. It's the second largest diplo corps in the world, second only to the U.S.

The U.S. is roughly 300 million people. France is 60 million people. Why do they have so many? Oh, right... France is competing with the U.S. on the world stage.

But now, the unions are complaining that their dashing Foreign Minister Dominque de Villepin (search) travels too much, and that his wife took a 50-member entourage to Rome for the beatification of Mother Teresa (search)... so out they go on strike. Diplomats to the barricades!

They'll be back tomorrow. It's a one-day strike. It probably should have been called a worker holiday rather than a strike. They have so many anyway, what's one more?

That's My Word.

What do you think? We'd like to hear from you, so send us your comments at Some of your e-mails will be featured on the air or on our site.

Looking for previous My Word columns?
  Click here!